Electroacupuncture Alleviates Chronic Back Pain

University of Florida (UF) researchers have reported success with using electroacupuncture to alleviate chronic back pain in horses. The study was published in a recent edition of the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

"Chronic back pain in horses is common and debilitating, and is therefore an important condition economically and humanely," UF Clinical Assistant Professor Huisheng Xie, DVM, PhD, MS, explained. "This problem is also very persistent and difficult to treat. There are no specific therapies for treating chronic back pain; the only reasonably successful alternatives (other than acupuncture) are physiotherapy with ice massage and a controlled exercise conditioning program."

Electroacupuncture passes electric current through needles inserted in specific pairs of acupuncture points. Proponents say the electrical current stimulates a larger area and provides stronger pain relief than traditional dry needle acupuncture.

Researchers treated 15 horses with chronic signs of thoracolumbar (in front of the pelvis) pain with phenylbutazone, a common pain reliever, or electroacupuncture.

"Results provided evidence that three sessions of electroacupuncture treatment can successfully alleviate signs of thoracolumbar pain in horses," concluded the researchers.

Xie intended the study to give a better understanding of acupuncture and how it can be applied to specific cases. Although the study used a only a few horses, the UF researchers are confident in their results. "In the future there may be a need to perform a larger study, but as for now we know electroacupuncture is extremely beneficial in horses," Xie said.

About the Author

Chad Mendell

Chad Mendell is the former Managing Editor for TheHorse.com .

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